Sashimi bibimbap, En Hakkore
Why it’s this week’s Best Bite: The beautiful spring weather over the weekend called for a leisurely midday lunch, starting at a fairly new Korean place that I hadn’t tried yet and ending with dessert at a tried-and-true favorite. First up was En Hakkore, nestled in the heart of Bucktown. The small menu offers mostly traditional Korean dishes, with a few fusion-y twists, such as paratha tacos on fried Indian flatbread. My sashimi bibimbap, a stunning bowl of rice topped with more than a dozen kinds of vegetables and four varieties of sashimi, was nothing short of a work of art. Once it was all mixed together with housemade gochujang (Korean hot sauce), it wasn’t quite as pretty, but the fresh, bright flavors in each bite echoed the sunshine streaming through the windows. My dining companion went for a more typical bibimbap with bulgogi-style marinated beef, which was just as delicious.
Blueberry french toast and turkish coffee gelato, Black Dog Gelato
We could have ventured either direction on Damen Avenue to reach a Black Dog Gelato location, but ended up going north to the Roscoe Village outpost. I’ve been a Black Dog fan ever since I volunteered at the Luxury Ice Cream Festival four years ago and was assigned to help out owner Jessie Oloroso at her booth. From the first bite of salted peanut, one of her first signature flavors, I was hooked. Since then, the bold gelato has received nationwide attention, and now shows up on the dessert menu at restaurants all over the city. While I’m always content with Black Dog classics, such as goat cheese-cashew-caramel or malted vanilla, I usually go for whatever’s new and interesting that day. After a lot of tasting, I landed on a breakfast-inspired combination of cinnamon-scented blueberry french toast and cardamom-laced turkish coffee. So good. We’re right at the beginning of gelato season, so if you haven’t tasted this gelato yet, just go. And then go again.
The details: En Hakkore, 1840 N Damen Ave., Chicago; Black Dog Gelato, 859 N Damen Ave. and 1955 W. Belmont Ave., Chicago.